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New UN Sex Abuse Charge in CAR, After Ladsous Linked Abuse to "R&R"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 15, updated -- When peacekeepers from France allegedly raped children in the Central African Republic and the UN learned about it more than a year ago, the UN and UNICEF did nothing, until French UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous asked to fire the whistleblower Anders Kompass in March of this year, as stated in two UN Dispute Tribunal rulings.

  On September 11, refusing to answer on this, Ladsous instead linked the rapes to soldiers' lack of "distraction" and saying rapes could be avoided by some "relatively cheap R&R." Video here.

  On September 15, the UN Mission in CAR, MINUSCA, issued this:

"On 12 September 2015, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) received an allegation of sexual exploitation committed by one of its civilian staff.
"MINUSCA has informed the CAR authorities of this allegation and the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services has immediately taken steps to investigate this case, consistent with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Zero Tolerance Policy on SEA.
"MINUSCA condemns in the strongest possible terms any instance of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN personnel in the CAR. SRSG Onanga-Anyanga who has discussed this new case with both High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, and USG DPKO Mr. Herve Ladsous, reiterates his personal and institutional commitment to ensure that the rights and dignity of victims are protected, an investigation is carried out swiftly, and that justice is done.
"There are currently seventeen allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel in the CAR that have been reported to MINUSCA. Of these 17 cases, 13 involve allegations against our military, one involves allegations against our police, one case is against a civilian, and in one case, the perpetrator’s status is unknown. Each and every case has been documented and initial fact-finding, preservation of evidence, and/or investigations have been initiated."

  Update: after Inner City Press published the above, as issued, with 16 allegations, the UN issued a correction, that it is 17. But they did not change the breakdown of 13 military, 1 police, 1 civilian and 1 other, which still adds up to 16.

  Will Ladsous be held accountable?

  On September 14, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about what Ladsous had said, similar to comment which as noted below have gotten other military officials fired, even after they apologized. (Ladsous has not apologized, clarified, or answered any Press questions.) September 14 video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: I'd wanted to ask you this on Friday or Mr. Ladsous, but I want to ask you, from this podium, he said, in discussing rapes, he said that peacekeepers there don't have enough recreation, that they don't have enough comfort.  He said that they are looking into getting them flights to get them fresh air, and although he did use the word, he's not excusing it.  I'm going to tell, many people saw this as basically a statement that somehow linking the rapes to a lack of other distractions…

Spokesman Dujarric:  I think… I think it's a complete misinterpretation of what Mr. Ladsous said.  He stressed a number of times that there was no excuse...

Inner City Press:  Then what about the flights?  I'm sorry.

Spokesman:  I'm a little over-caffeinated with me today so just bear with me.  He repeatedly said that there was no excuse for rape.  Okay.  That is clear.  That is UN policy, and I think that's everyone's policy.  There is no excuse for rape.  What he said in talking about the case of one contingent that had been deployed in basically a very hardship peacekeeping operation for more than three years.  When troops are not rotated, when troops don't have an opportunity to be rotated out for [rest and recuperation] and that's true for any armed forces, it creates the conditions where there can be all sorts of abuse or other things developing.  It is not an excuse for rape.  And I think it's clear that we have seen rape and horrendous sexual abuse by soldiers in many parts of the world.  Some of them come from very rich armies.  Some come from very poor armies.  There is no excuse.  What he was saying and I think people would agree with it, that three years for any contingent being stationed in very difficult circumstances is too long.

Inner City Press:  I guess what I want to say, US military, an admiral in the Pacific was fired for comments exactly like that for which the person… the person excused himself and apologized… he said distraction, comfort.

Spokesman:  Matthew, Matthew.  I read what you wrote.  I'm aware of the other case.  I think they're complete… they're not comparable.

Inner City Press:  Where are the flights going?  Where are the [rest and recuperation] flights going? 

Spokesman:  I will come back…

  Back in 1995 for similar comments, US Admiral Richard C. Macke was fired, as reported in the LA Times and the New York Times, which said Macke "apologized after members of Congress and Japanese officials complained, but it was too late.... A senior White House official said tonight that Anthony Lake, the national security adviser, had heard of Admiral Macke's remarks and told the Defense Department that the statements were 'not acceptable.'"

  Anthony Lake is now in the UN system, as the head of UNICEF - does he think UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous' similar comments in 2015 are acceptable? Or does he, apparently like his and some other major member states, hope no one notices what Ladsous says and, worse, does?

  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has yet to act. Nor have Ladsous' French sponsors, who dumped him on the UN after he'd previously been rejected for the post by Ban's predecessor Kofi Annan, said anything.

 When Inner City Press started asking about this, Ladsous took to saying "I don't respond to you, Mister," right on UNTV. Instead he summoned Agence France Presse, Reuters and others to private briefings, as here in the hall. These media didn't report Ladsous' antics -- nor despite being present at Ladsous' September 11 press conference did they report his linkage of soldiers' rapes to their lack of "comfort" or R&R. This is today's UN.

  It was Senegalese Babacar Gaye, the head of the CAR mission, and not overall Peacekeeping chief Ladsous who was fired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; Inner City Press obtained and put Gaye's letter online here (credited here and here) citing systemic problems.

  Before Ladsous' carefully controlled four day visit to the country - no questions on the peacekeeper rapes, colonial photographs sent out - UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press, which asked, that Ladsous would take questions when he returned, including about peacekeepers' sexual abuse.

But when Ladsous appeared at the September 11 UN noon briefing, UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric for the second time did not allow Inner City Press to ask Ladsous a single question.
Dujarric gave the first question to the UN Correspondents Association, which after a perfunctory questions about the number of sexual abuse cases said its “real” question was if Ladsous will meet Obama. (Yes, apparently, and inappropriately, see below). Video here.

  Inner City Press prepared to ask Ladsous an obvious question: what is his response to appearing in at least two UN Dispute Tribunal rulings as having tried to get the whistleblower Kompass fired? But Dujarric gave the second question to a Reuters reporter who has previously channeled Ladsous, then to Agence France Presse, whose UN reporter in 2011 asked UNCA's board to act on Inner City Press' reporting on Ladsous.

Even with the questions allowed, Ladsous' answers should get him fired. First, speaking of sexual abuse, he said he didn't want to “deflower” the subject. Vine here. Then explaining the peacekeepers' rapes he said that a solution would be to get them more “recreation” (translating back and forth with Dujarric, Ladsous began to say “R and R”).

  Ladsous was asked, what do you mean? He said that Asian countries are good at this. We'll have more, but on top of his role in covering up rapes in DR Congo, Darfur and now CAR, this should get Ladsous fired. More here.


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